I have so much I want to write this morning, my head hurts so forgive me if I digress and if I loose my way. I will try to have a beginning a middle and an end, but who knows!
So for me personally, and as always just my personal view, there is a difference between Estrangement and Parental Alienation.
I was estranged from my father, he made the decision to walk out on me when I was 15years old, and my brother, my dad was not a very nice man and told us both that he didn’t want us in his life and he was not interested in us at all. After 15 years I thought I would try and build bridges and I wanted my children to know their grandfather, the fact he didn’t want me in his life was irrelevant , as a parent I felt my children had a right to know their history and their identity. I never lied to them about him or made up fictitious stuff, he was still their grandfather.
It was not an easy meet up, and it became very clear that he didn’t want to know, but I gave him that opportunity.
At his funeral, my whole family had been completely airbrushed to the extent that someone introduced themselves to us and asked who we were, they didn’t even know we existed.
Of course it all affected me but, I believed I had done all I could do and it was his choice and ultimately his loss of not having a relationship with his grandchildren.
I could have become bitter and twisted, but what would be the point, did I want to live the rest of my life being angry, the only person to suffer would have been me.
On the other hand alienation is when someone deliberately drip feeds acid into a child’s mind, bad mouths another person,be that a parent or grandparent. Involving children in their angst they have against someone else. Alienation is inhuman in the damage it does, no-one understands it unless it has happened to them. The alienators behaviour is vile and evil, destroying millions of relationships and in some cases causing those affected to end their lives.
There are calls for studies and research even more statistics, we seem to have become a nation of studies and stats, I don’t need stats to tell me how many people are affected by alienation, I only have to answer my phone or receive an email from a grandparent who is totally heartbroken to know that the person I am listening to, is not a statistic but a human being who needs someone to hold out a hand to help them from falling.
One of the things in running a charity is to be non-judgemental, in our case we are a support group so our aim is to give support, to support individuals who are suffering unbelievable hurt and pain, not to look into the latest research or study to see what category that individual falls in to.
It is fact that family breakdown is at epidemic stage, that coming from a fractured family is now the norm, not as it was when I first started work in education when in a class of 30 children, it was unusual to have one child who was living with only one parent now it is the other way around. I didn’t need research and studies there either, I could see it for myself.
Those of you who read my blogs know that I have never been an advocate of Grandparents Rights, but the rights of the children. In the recent article in the newspaper this week, Esther Rantzen talked about the French culture, that it is enshrined in French law that after separation/ divorce a child, if they wish, continue the relationship with their extended family, it is historic. It doesn’t mean that if there is a proven reason, such as a child protection issue, a child is forced to such a relationship. Often with the written word, it is misinterpreted some people only see what they want to see. A headline grabber.
When Esther and I worked together last year with The One Show, the responses were enormous we had hundreds of letters and emails, many, many were from children themselves, saying that they were being prevented from seeing their grandparents, some telling me that they had been told their grandparents had died, children who were also hurting beyond words.
One said, that their grandfather had died before he got the chance to tell him he had never stopped loving him, but he had been prevented from contacting him.
So, no, for me research, studies and stats don’t matter, it is the human tragedy that is unfolding before our very eyes that matter.
Helping and supporting those who are feeling isolated and alone, is and always will be my focus, certainly not for having a go at organisations who are trying to help and support people, yet another good reason for our independence.